Today, I sat in a conference room in an old City Hall with a group of civil servants, as a former prison warden explained the structure of Assistant Deputy Ministers, the Privy Council, and Cabinet Committees.
If I hadn't already said I was in Ottawa, you might have guessed.
It was an informational day, although it was particulary depressing moment when we were asked to put together a presentation describing our department's products, services, and programs. Apparently, that portion of the class was what they called "The Culture of the Public Service." What? Products and services are "culture"? You know, if they'd just asked me to describe the culture of the DRDC, I would have gladly obliged.
Afterwards, they'd scheduled an evening tour of Parliament -- to make up for the one that got cancelled tomorrow morning -- and after getting off the tour bus and going through security, the organisers were still nowhere to be seen. That being the case, the security guard told us we could go spectate in the House of Commons instead... and when we came out, the entire security department was apparently out covering a Christmas Party somewhere. Random groups of civil servants ran through the halls of the senator's offices. Some looked for an escape, others tried to see how far they could get before someone stopped them. I was in the latter group, but after I actually passed a senator in the hallway and said hello, I figured the challenge just wasn't there.
An odd evening, to be sure. But the oddest thing by far happened during the lunch hour. As we all filed into the catering service, some music was piped through the speakers. They'd obviously been asked to provide Canadian music, so what we heard was Sam Roberts' "The Canadian Dream."
Have you ever heard those lyrics? Here's the excerpt which they should have noticed:
"S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-M is here to stay,
S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-M is the only way."
Stephen Harper's Canada isn't what it used to be.